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Alleachi Mae Jefferson v. Michael J. Astrue

February 24, 2012

ALLEACHI MAE JEFFERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William C. Sherrill, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This is a social security case referred to me upon consent of the parties and reference by District Judge Hinkle. Doc. 7. It is concluded that the decision of the Commissioner should be affirmed.

Procedural status of the case

Plaintiff, Alleachi Mae Jefferson, applied for disability insurance benefits. She appears before this court without an attorney. Her last date of insured status for disability benefits is June 30, 2012. R. 24. Plaintiff alleges disability due to back pain and mental problems, with onset on January 11, 2007. Plaintiff was 50 years of age on the date of the administrative hearing, has a high school education with some college, and has past relevant work as a school bus driver. R. 56-57.

At step 2, the Administrative Law Judge found that Plaintiff has the following "severe" impairments: sprain or strain of her cervical and lumbar spine; right shoulder laboral tear; obesity; and depressive disorder. R. 24. He found that she has the residual functional capacity to do a limited range of light work, cannot perform her past relevant work as a school bus driver, but can perform other work in the national economy (ticket taker, gate guard, parking lot cashier, shipping and receiving clerk, and companion), and thus is not disabled. R. 25-32.

Legal standards guiding judicial review

This court must determine whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record and premised upon correct legal principles. Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). "Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance. It is such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983) (citations omitted); Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1211 (11th Cir. 2005). "The Commissioner's factual findings are conclusive if supported by substantial evidence." Wilson v. Barnhart, 284 F.3d 1219, 1221 (11th Cir. 2002).*fn1

A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment of such severity that the claimant is not only unable to do past relevant work, "but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy . . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A). A disability is an "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months . . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). Both the "impairment" and the "inability" must be expected to last not less than 12 months. Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U.S. 212, 122 S.Ct. 1265, 1272, 152 L.Ed.2d 330 (2002).

The Commissioner analyzes a claim in five steps. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(f):

1. Is the individual currently engaged in substantial gainful activity?

2. Does the individual have any severe impairments?

3. Does the individual have any severe impairments that meet or equal those listed in Appendix 1 of 20 C.F.R. Part 404?

4. Does the individual have any impairments which prevent ...


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